Why We Still Need Fossil Fuel

October 19, 2014
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Car show with consumers eagerly inspecting new models. photo by Steve B. Davis

Energy and Fossil Fuels

First let me make it clear to the reader I’ve been employed in the petroleum industry for over 35 years. Like most people I consume energy to support my lifestyle. That energy for the most part is derived from fossil fuels. We all drive a vehicle, heat our home, and sometimes take airline flights all of which require the use of fossil fuels. Most items I purchase have packaging of some kind. These are derived from petroleum which like coal is a fossil fuel. When we refer to the use of fossil fuels we’re talking about a lot more than gas for your car and natural gas for your home. Society consumes a myriad of products derived from fossil fuels, many of which most of us are unaware of. In summary, our present lifestyle requires the use of energy.

Environment and Energy

Most of us will agree environmental protection is an essential part of enriching our lifestyle. My children and I love hiking, biking, camping and being outdoors. Golf is a personal passion I enjoy outdoors. The point is we all have an impact on our planet just by living. The health of our planet is affected by our lifestyle choices. Our goal should be to minimize that impact.

Lifestyle and Energy

At the present time the lifestyle we enjoy is supported in the main by fossil fuels. Over the long term sustaining this lifestyle will require humans to investigate the use of alternative and cleaner energy sources. However, we will still require reliable and affordable energy sources. Society must reduce the waste of existing resources, use energy efficiently, and make a sustainable, minimal-impact lifestyle the priority.

Impacts of Energy Use

Planet Earth is our home. We need to reevaluate our impacts on a regular basis. It’s imperative to educate ourselves in the sources and uses of all forms of energy. It’s important to be aware of where energy comes from, how it’s used, and the impacts. It’s prudent and wise to seek better ways to do things in our own lives and in society in general.

Continuous improvement for the human race is a necessity if we want to survive and not face extinction. Dinosaurs inhabited the planet for over 100 million-years, humans have only been alive for a few million-years. Throughout history creatures of all shapes and sizes have inhabited Earth. Many became extinct for various reasons. Extinction is forever. Will the human race become extinct? Solving our energy problems is one step towards ensuring our ultimate survival as a species.

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Wind farm in central Montana. Photo by Steve B. Davis

Energy Challenge

Here’s a challenge for the reader. Examine your own life. Make a list of all the things in your home and lifestyle originating from fossil fuels. To assist you I’ve listed the fossil fuels and some of the products and uses derived from them below. Once you’ve created your list ask yourself how many you could eliminate, and if any substitutes exist at the present time. I’m confident this exercise will make you think.

Crude Oil/Bitumen (Heavy Oil) from conventional reservoirs, shale and oil sands

  • gasoline for automobiles, trucks and motorcycles, lawnmowers
  • diesel fuel for trucks, trains, buses, farm tractors, ships, power generation and some automobiles
  • heating oil for houses and industrial facilities
  • jet fuel for airliners, military planes and private planes
  • plastics – automobile parts, house siding, roofing and insulation, toys, electronics, packaging
  • chemicals – fertilizers, cosmetics, food additives

Natural Gas

  • fuel for home heating, industrial heating, some buses and automobiles
  • propane – fuel for some vehicles, heating, BBQs
  • ethane and other components for chemical and plastic industries
  • power generation plants

Coal

  • power generation plants
  • steel making industry

I hope you’ve learned something from this short article. Constructive comments and questions are welcomed, just click on comments below.

 

 

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“Near Miss: The Attempted Assassination of JFK” – Smithsonian Documentary

September 20, 2013

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Smithsonian Channel, part of the Smithsonian Museum, just announced they will air a documentary November 17, 2013 on the Kennedy assassination attempt. It is called “Kennedy’s Suicide Bomber” and was produced by Raw Cut TV a UK company. I provided much of the information to one of Raw Cut’s researchers many months ago. This movie is based at least partly on my book referenced in the title of this blog posting.

The problem is they never notified me of the final production and I’m not sure if they will be crediting me with my contribution. I realize that they almost certainly did additional research but I put them on to many of the sources and also furnished them with so-called rare documents related to this. I am presently making contact with both companies to discuss my concerns. Fortunately I documented my research every step of the way. I also documented all my contacts with Raw Cut. Smithsonian and Raw Cut need to make sure I am credited somewhere in this documentary. That’s all I ask.

In any event the show will be great publicity for this “near miss”. Just remember “Near Miss: The Attempted Assassination of JFK” is the only book ever written concerning this and its potential impacts. The book was published in December 2010 and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Googlebooks, Kobobooks and others. The author is me – Steve B. Davis.

Link:

Near Miss – The book by Steve B. Davis


B-17 Flying Fortress: Up close and personal with a legend.

September 7, 2012

Nose art featuring Betty Grable’s famous pinup. Photo: Steve Davis

Recently I had a chance to get up close and personal with a World War II legend, the famous American B-17 Flying Fortress.

The B-17 was a heavy, multi-engined (4) bomber used in the Allied strategic bombing of German war industries. The Flying Fortress was heavily armed and had a crew of 10, pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator, bombadier, and gunners.

There was a tail gunner at the rear, a ball turret under the plane, two waist gunners at the midsection, top turret, and forward guns. Even with this impressive armament losses were heavy. The problem in the beginning was lack of fighter support all the way to the targets in Germany. Because of fuel constraints the fighters had to turn back and return to base, then the German fighters attacked. The B-17 was known for its ability to absorb damage and yet still limp home to base. Eventually long range fighters were developed such as the P-51 Mustang and the P-47 Thunderbolt which could escort the bombers all the way to the target and back home. This reduced the Allied losses significantly.

The Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Wing based out of Mesa, Arizona visited Calgary as part of the Calgary Aviation Expo. This particular B-17 is restored and flight ready, in fact, it flew all the way up to Calgary from Arizona.

It is known as the “Sentimental Journey” and is adorned with one of the most famous pinup pictures of World War II as its nose art. Permission was granted by Betty Grable’s widower Harry James to use the poster art. It is beautiful to say the least. Crews painted these on their planes as good luck charms.

It’s hard to imagine, but most of the crews of these fearsome craft were in their late teens and early twenties. It was not unusual for the commander to be only 18 or 19 years of age. Sadly many of these young men never came back.

The most famous movies made about these planes and the young men who flew them are “Twelve O’Clock High” with Gregory Peck, and “Memphis Belle” with Matthew Modine. Real B-17s along with actual wartime footage was used in both these films.

Some of the young men who flew in these planes later became famous, James Stewart and  Clark Gable, the actors, Tom Landry, NFL player and coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Norman Lear, producer of All in the Family, and Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.

It is wonderful to see these planes restored and used to tell the history of that era.


Alberta Lawman: Stephen Lawson – His Life and Times

July 9, 2012

Steve Lawson being laid to rest with full military honours. Photo A4826 Provincial Museum of Alberta

Ninety years ago this September, in fact on Monday September 25, 1922, a somber event took place at Macleod, Alberta. It was the funeral of Stephen O. Lawson. The town said goodbye to its former Chief of Police. His wife Maggie and their five young children Stephen, Peggy, Mary, Pearl and Kathleen said goodbye to their husband and father. Never again would his loving wife Maggie have her life partner to hold and confide in. Never again would his children have him to love and cherish.

Constable Steve Lawson of the Alberta Provincial Police was gunned down in cold-blood on the previous Thursday evening September 21, 1922 outside his home and office at Coleman, Alberta. His wife and children witnessed his murder. When he collapsed fatally wounded and bleeding his family saw it all. They watched in horror as the life left his body.

The so-called rum runners of the Crowsnest Pass killed him in their thirst for profit in the illegal liquor trade of the Prohibition Era.

That Monday at Macleod, where Steve had been on the police force from 1908 until 1920, and chief for most of those years, the town and his family buried him in Union Cemetery with full military honours. Flags were flown at half-staff, most businesses closed, and schools dismissed such was the respect they had for one of their own.

During his time in Macleod he met and married Maggie Rae McKenzie. There beginning in 1908 they had five children. The older children attended school in Macleod. Steve and Maggie took active roles in the community belonging to the Masons and other organizations.

In Alberta history Steve Lawson seems to be only a footnote, but there was much more to this man. He emigrated from England in 1903. Settling in Macleod he worked briefly for the RNWMP as a Special Constable, Teamster, then he joined the Macleod Police force as a night constable and later became its chief.

In 1916 he volunteered and went overseas with the CEF in World War I. He attained the rank of Sergeant, was wounded, and won the Military Medal for valor. He returned to Macleod as Chief of Police in 1919, but left to take the same position in Fernie, BC in May 1920. Then in March 1922 he was hired by the Alberta Provincial Police and posted to Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass. There he met his demise at the hands of the smugglers.

Steve B. Davis
Calgary, AB, June 2012
Synopsis from his soon to be published book,
“Alberta Lawman: Stephen Lawson – His Life and Times”


Natural gas is the answer, maybe.

May 11, 2012

Natural gas is the  answer, maybe.

Jet fuel and diesel fuel are usually derived from crude oil. With crude oil at all time highs the result is much higher prices at the pump. The biggest users of diesel fuel are truckers. Those semis we all see roaring down the roads and rely on for everyday products, groceries and consumer goods burn diesel.

A technology exists for converting natural gas to diesel and jet fuel. The “gas-to-liquids” plants have been built most recently in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar. These plants cost billions to build and require reliable access to relatively cheap supplies of natural gas feedstock over the long-term. Some of the major energy companies are now seriously considering building such plants in North America.

North America, especially Canada and the United States, have abundant and under-utilized reserves of natural gas with more coming on stream rapidly.

This technology might be able to assure us of a reliable supply of diesel and jet fuel but the prices may still be relatively high, at least over the short-term until the cost of constructing the plants is  paid out.

The big kicker for most consumers – this technology will not convert natural gas to gasoline. Consumers would still benefit but primarily by lowering the trucking industry’s costs.

We’ll just have to watch and see if someone takes the plunge and gets into this business.

Further reading:
“Turning natural gas into diesel fuel” by Steve Hargreaves @CNN Money May 9, 2012 (http://money.cnn.com)


2010 in review

January 7, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

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A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 31 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 250 posts. There were 42 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was November 23rd with 92 views. The most popular post that day was “The Kennedy Detail” – Inaccuracy perpetuated.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, my.yahoo.com, educationforum.ipbhost.com, beyondtourism.wordpress.com, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for ram river falls, boeing 747, quebec bridge collapse, ram river falls alberta, and the kennedy detail.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

“The Kennedy Detail” – Inaccuracy perpetuated November 2010
4 comments

2

Ram River Falls – Spirit of Alberta June 2010

3

Quebec Bridge Collapse – August 29, 1907 September 2007
4 comments

4

About the Author August 2007
11 comments

5

Writing Projects April 2008
16 comments


Best Friends Forever

October 15, 2010

Last evening my 9 year old son experienced one of life’s crisises for the first time – having friends move away.

We’ve lived in the same street for eleven years now. This place is all my son knows.  The family moving has also lived here for the same time period. My son grew up playing with the two brothers, 10 and 8 years of age. They became best friends forever.

A while back the father got a transfer to another province far away. They sold their house and last evening they left for their new home. My son has been fighting his emotions for the last several weeks, finally he had to release them.

He intensified his play with the boys over the last week, and then the final goodbyes had to be said. They are gone from his life. He intends to try to keep in touch with Facebook and snailmail, but it won’t be the same. There won’t be the drop-in visits, time spent playing army and computer games together. Life dealt them a life-changing blow.

Friends are precious. The lesson learned through this event will be part of these young minds for a long time. New friendships will be made over the years to come, but it’s hard to imagine them being as good as the one these best friends forever have.

It touched me to watch my son stand on the porch waving goodbye as they drove away to their new life. Son I know you don’t understand right now, but in the years to come you will make many more “best friends forever”.


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